Diary of Jewish girl killed by Nazis discovered

19th October 2004, Comments 1 comment

19 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — An 18-year-old Jewish girl's diary which describes her last month of imprisonment during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands has been discovered. Echoing the famous Anne Frank diary, the new find tells of both the terror and the mundane aspects of life during the Holocaust.

19 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — An 18-year-old Jewish girl's diary which describes her last month of imprisonment during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands has been discovered. Echoing the famous Anne Frank diary, the new find tells of both the terror and the mundane aspects of life during the Holocaust.

Helga Deen ... 1925 - 1943

Helga Deen describes her feelings of powerlessness and despair, but also writes in her diary of delousing, arguments between camp detainees, boerenkoolstamppot (kale stew) and infamous child transports.

Deen was eventually murdered, along with her father, mother and brother, by the Nazis in Sobibor death camp in Poland on 16 July 1943, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

The diary of another Jewish girl, Anne Frank, has sold more than 25 million copies and has been translated into 55 languages.

Her diary — which helped the world put a name and a recognisable face to the anonymous millions slaughtered in  the Nazi genocide — covers the time from when Frank, her family and friends went into hiding in July 1942 in an attic in Amsterdam to escape Nazi persecution.

They were eventually betrayed two years later and Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945.

Some 60 years later, the Tilburg Regional Archive was loaned Deen's diary earlier this year by the son of Kees van den Berg, who had a relationship with Deen during World War II.

The diary — along with several letters, a fountain pen, a sanitary towel and a lock of hair — was enclosed in a traditional brown ladies bag. In it Deen tells of her last days in Camp Vught in the Netherlands before being transported to Sobibor.

"I couldn't believe what I saw," archivist Gerrit Kobes said, adding that the book — with 21 pages of diary entries and several pages of lead pencil sketches of the camp — was unique.

Documentalist Els van der Meer — who specialises in researching Camp Vught — described the diary as an exceptional discovery. She said the only other known diary of the kind is that of David Koker, which was published in 1977.

The Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) has also described the latest discovery as remarkable.

Deen was in her final year of school at the Rijks hbs in Tilburg when she was transported with her family to Camp Vught on 1 April 1943. She was housed in barracks 34B.

The first entry of Deen's prison diary

In total, some 31,000 people (including 15,000 Jews) were held in Camp Vught between January 1943 and September 1944. It was the only SS concentration camp located outside Germany.

And it was announced on 5 June 1943 that all the children would be transported away from the camp. The first train of children aged up until three departed the next day with their mother. Children aged four to 16 departed with their mother or father on 7 June 1943.

The trains travelled to the transfer camp Westerbork. In total, 1,269 Jewish children were deported from Vught via Weesterbork to Sobibor in Poland, where they were killed almost immediately upon arrival, the website www.nmkampvught.nl said.

Schoolgirl Deen secretly wrote her diary from 1 June, having promised her boyfriend she would record her experiences, the correspondence indicates. She writes in the diary to her "dearest". The diary, together with five letters, was eventually smuggled out of the camp.

In her last journal entry, a month after her arrival at Vught, Deen writes that her family were to be placed on another transport. She also writes a final letter on 2 July 1943: "What we have experienced these months is indescribable and for someone who has not experienced it, unimaginable".

Her diary will be put on display in Apeldoorn on Saturday 30 October at the National Archive Day. More information in Dutch can be found at: www.archievendag.nl.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

1 Comment To This Article

  • Nicola posted:

    on 22nd November 2014, 00:35:39 - Reply

    I think it's wonderful that another book describing first hand the experiences of the murdered girl and her family. Hopefully the diary will teach more young schoolkids about the horrors that thier great granddad fought and died to eliminate. I have one question though: It says that the camp that Helga Deen was held in was the only SS camp outside Germany, but I thought there were lots of camps throughout Europe, with many in Poland, such as Chelmno, Treblinka and Sobibor, where this young lady and her family was murdered. Was I wrong? (It has been known to happen......) Thank you in advance if anyone answers xx